Marijuana used to be a drug that was commonly frowned upon. Now that it's legal all over the U.S. and Canada, there's been a lot more research on the effects of marijuana. With wider spread usage comes wider spread questions, and as a result, there's been more studies on the effects of marijuana on human health, both mental and physical.
So when it comes to our sexual health, does marijuana play a role in erectile dysfunction? And if so, how?
Marijuana and Erectile Dysfunction: The Research
Unfortunately, there is a correlation between marijuana use and erectile dysfunction, however the jury truly is still out.
A lot of the evidence is anecdotal, which means people are self-reporting their experiences with marijuana and erectile dysfunction. This isn't the most reliable evidence, but it's worth considering. Anecdotally, some people say that marijuana makes it difficult to get or maintain an erection when they're high. But others say that marijuana actually makes sex better by helping them relax and get into the moment.
So which is it? Well, it might be a little bit of both.
Why It Might Cause Erectile Dysfunction
Marijuana can decrease blood pressure, which can lead to erectile dysfunction. When you smoke marijuana, the active ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) binds to receptors in your brain and causes a decrease in blood pressure. This can lead to lightheadedness, dizziness, and in some cases, fainting.
THC can also affect the way your body processes adrenaline. Adrenaline is responsible for the "fight-or-flight" response, which is the body's natural response to stress. This response includes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. When THC interferes with the body's natural processing of adrenaline, it can lead to a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate.
Smoking in general can also lead to erectile dysfunction. This is because smoking damages the blood vessels, including the ones that carry blood to the penis. This can make it difficult to get and maintain an erection. This is a conclusive and well researched effect, not just an anecdotal one.
Why It Might Not Cause Erectile Dysfunction
While marijuana might decrease blood pressure, it can also increase blood flow. This is because THC dilates the blood vessels, which allows more blood to flow through them. This increased blood flow can actually lead to an erection.
Marijuana can also increase libido, which is the desire to have sex. This is because THC binds to the receptors in the brain that are responsible for sexual arousal.
So which is it?
It's likely that marijuana might cause erectile dysfunction in men who are already predisposed to it. If you have high blood pressure or smoke cigarettes, you're more likely to experience erectile dysfunction when using marijuana. However, if you don't have any underlying health conditions, marijuana might not cause any erectile dysfunction.
The amount you smoke may also come into play. Frequent or heavy marijuana use may lead to erectile dysfunction, while occasional use might not have any effect.
If you're concerned about how marijuana might affect your erectile function, talk to your doctor. They can help you figure out if you're at risk and what you can do to prevent any potential problems.
Side Effects of Marijuana That We Know About
Marijuana use can result in a number of side effects, some of which are more serious than others. These side effects can include:
Anxiety: Weed can cause anxiety, especially if you're smoking it for the first time or if you're smoking a lot of it.
Paranoia: Some people who smoke weed can get paranoid, feeling like everyone is out to get them. Those who are prone to anxiety or paranoia may want to avoid weed altogether.
Short-Term Memory Loss: One of the most well-known side effects of weed is that it can cause short-term memory loss. This is why it's often difficult to remember things when you're high.
Memory Problems: In addition to short-term memory loss, weed can also cause long-term memory problems if you smoke it often enough. Thankfully, these memory problems are usually only temporary and will go away once you stop smoking.
Overeating: Another well-known side effect of weed is the “munchies.” This is because weed can increase your appetite, sometimes to the point of overeating.
Dry Mouth: Weed can cause dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. This is because it decreases the production of saliva.
Red eyes: Weed can cause red or bloodshot eyes. This is because it dilates the blood vessels in the eyes.
Dizziness: Weed can cause dizziness or lightheadedness. This is because it can lower your blood pressure, as well as affect your balance and coordination.
Sexual Side Effects of Marijuana
Erectile Dysfunction: One of the potential sexual side effects of marijuana is erectile dysfunction. This is because weed can affect blood flow, as well as lower testosterone levels.
Inhibited Orgasm: In addition to erectile dysfunction, weed can also cause inhibited orgasm. This is because it can affect the nervous system, as well as reduce sexual desire.
Decreased Libido: Another sexual side effect of weed is decreased libido. This does not effect everyone, as some people report an increase in libido when they smoke weed. However, for those who do experience a decrease in libido, it can be a significant problem.
These are just a few of the potential sexual side effects of marijuana. It's important to remember that not everyone will experience these side effects, and that they will vary from person to person. If you're concerned about the potential sexual side effects of marijuana, it's best to talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional.
Marijuana and Testosterone
In some cases, marijuana and testosterone levels may be related. Testosterone levels are thought to be influenced by the endocannabinoid system, which is a network of receptors in the brain that is involved in a variety of body processes, including memory and emotion. Research has shown that the endocannabinoid system is also involved in the regulation of testosterone levels.
So how do these two things work together? Well, it’s thought that marijuana may decrease testosterone levels by affecting the endocannabinoid system. One study found that nonhuman primates who were exposed to THC (the main active ingredient in marijuana) had lower levels of testosterone than those who were not exposed to THC.
This could translate in humans to show that chronic marijuana use may lead to lower testosterone levels over time. However, it’s important to note that this research is still in its early stages, so more research is needed to understand the full extent of the relationship between marijuana and testosterone levels.
The link between marijuana and ED is far from conclusive, but it still exists. The evidence is mostly anecdotal, but the cases where it has been studied in controlled settings are promising. The exact mechanism of how marijuana could affect ED is not clear, but it is most likely through the same pathway that it affects sexual desire. More research is needed to determine the exact effect that marijuana has on ED.
It is known and studied conclusively that smoking cigarettes can lead to ED. The same is thought to be true for marijuana, but the research is not as clear. If you have a family history of ED or are a current smoker, you should be especially careful about using marijuana.
If you're concerned, talk to your primary care physician or a urologist about your options and the risks involved with marijuana use.
This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.